Working for Downland this summer was a great experience. Being able to get comfortable with some of my coworkers the first day of work made the transition easier. What helped my coworkers feel more comfortable talking to me was using the little Chinese that I knew. Once they realized how bad my Chinese was, that helped them become more confident in their English and more comfortable talking to me. The strategy of using some Chinese also helps earn your coworkers respect for the effort that you are putting in to use their first language. In the beginning of the summer, I only talked and interacted with my supervisor and two coworkers. However, simply just being respectful and continuing to use Chinese, by the end of the summer I grew close with the majority of my coworkers. I grew close enough to them that they took me out to lunch and bought be a cake for my last day. In addition to this relationship success, I also experienced professional success in the workplace. The CEO of Downland was so impressed with the work that I produced over the summer, that I accepted a position to continue working for them during the school year. I will continue working on the senior bedding product project, as it is still in the early stages, mainly conducting market research.
Despite producing research reports that greatly helped Downland, doing the tasks asked of me was not an easy task every day. China is a high context society and the United States is a low context society. A high context society is one where communication is not explicit. For example, when I was given a task to do, I was not given explicit instructions of what work I should provide my supervisor. Some of it was left up to my interpretation. In the United States, as a student or an employee, we are accustomed to our professors or managers providing us with detailed instructions for work we need to complete. Experiencing low context communication on a daily basis was definitely a challenge and required some trial and error. There were times when I would send my supervisor a report of market research I found, but some of the information I provided was not exactly what they were looking for, so I had to amend what I produced the first time. I feel that my problem solving and communication skills have improved because of this experience and living in a high context society this summer.